As a young girl, Hlee Lee-Kron struggled with being confident and outgoing in her Hmong community, going against the grain of her culture’s customs, which expected women to be more reserved and introverted. And yet she was able to find her voice and calling, building a successful career in journalism and storytelling. She’s now the founder and owner of the other media group (omg), a business focused on telling the stories of people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds from their viewpoint.
“I want to be able to show that we want to be the ones to share our stories with folks from a perspective of people living it,” Lee-Kron said.
The initial idea for creating the other media group came when Lee-Kron was the only young female producer of color at Twin Cities Public Television when she started at the station after college.
“I got a lot of the projects that were youth-related, people of color-related or female oriented,” Lee-Kron said. But she quickly realized the power of people of color being able to report on matters related to their communities, instead of what had traditionally been white reporters, who had typically made up the majority of newsrooms.
“A white producer comes in to talk to us for a while, gets our stories, does their project and we never hear from them again,” Lee-Kron said. “But there are enough people within each of our communities that do storytelling who are ready to talk about that perspective from a firsthand perspective.
After four years at TPT, Lee-Kron started to branch out and freelance, focusing on smaller groups that were not able to tell their own stories. Lee-Kron worked with numerous companies to hire community storytellers of different cultures to write stories for those firms. And that’s where the work really got underway to create the other media group.
“I’ve been kind of on my own for a while, and I love it,” Lee-Kron said. “I don’t know if I can go back to a regular job in an office.”
Lee-Kron’s first experience writing and storytelling began when she was a junior in high school. She got involved in a program called Don’t Believe The Hype, which sparked her interest in journalism. She got both on- and off-camera experience through this program, and it introduced her to the Urban Journalism Workshop, now known as the ThreeSixty Journalism program at the University of St. Thomas.
She went on to receive the coveted ThreeSixty full-tuition scholarship, helping open the doors to a BA in broadcast journalism with a minor in Urban Studies from St. Thomas. Because Lee-Kron was the fifth of eight children, she knew her parents couldn’t afford her college tuition.
“Without the scholarship, I don’t know if I would have finished college,” Lee-Kron said.
Lee-Kron shared how her relationships with St. Thomas professors and campus leaders, such as Dave Nimmer and Lynda MacDonald, helped her stick to her career
“Just by having that support system, there was always something that helped me keep going and feel inspired by,” Lee-Kron said.